Monday, February 07, 2022

the beginner's mind

a recent episode of the ezra kline show was one of the best podcast episodes i've heard in a long time. he interviewed writer ruth ozeki. i wasn't familiar with her work before hearing the episode, but now i've ordered a couple of her books from the library. she's a zen buddhist priest as well as a novelist and i loved her views on writing and well, life in general. she talked about writing and meditation and the connection between the body and the mind and the body and writing. it's so good and so packed full of profound thoughts that i've actually listened to it twice.

she talked about the buddhist notion of having a beginner's mind. she said that the possibilities are endless when you have a beginner's mind, because you meet everything you encounter with curiosity and openness. i have a beginner's mind right now, as i start a new job. or at least i am trying very hard to do so. it's so hard to shut down the part of my mind that wants to assess and categorize everything and make judgements about it, before even knowing the story or even the outlines of it. but to do that shuts off so much potential...for other stories, for other points of view, for openness and curiosity. as ozeki said in the interview, not knowing is so intimate, it give us an intimacy to the world around us, because we're open to it and to experiencing it and can thereby be more IN it.

so i'm working hard to just be IN my beginner's mind. and taking long walks in the cold, crisp air, to at the same time be IN my not-so-beginner's body. and to breathe deeply and be open and start just experiencing without judgement. and to stop second-guessing myself. and to just experience the thrilling experience of learning new things and getting to know new people and seeing where it leads. 

i miss my good colleagues from my old job, but i genuinely don't think i made the wrong decision. it's possible to feel sad and to miss my friends and the level of comfort and camaraderie we had together, but to feel that i made the right decision. i can hold all these things in my mind and yes, in my body at once. because we humans are full of contradictions and there's room for them within us. the world isn't as black and white as we've tried to make it over the past couple of decades, it's full of shades of grey. and we should be more curious about our own minds and feelings, be better at sitting with them and experiencing them. it's not too late to have a beginner's mind. 

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